The Mayor of a community west of Montreal wants to buy, demolish 250 flood-prone homes

MONTREAL - The Mayor of Saint-Andre-d'Argenteuil, a community West of Montreal, has a bold plan to protect his town from future flooding, but it could involve pushing 250 families out of their homes.

Along with many other Quebecers who live near rivers, residents of the small town saw their homes flooded twice over the past two years.

So, Marc-Olivier Labelle, the town's mayor, proposed buying out three neighbourhoods--offering to pay the pre-flood value of the homes.

Quebec has offered a similar deal to homeowners who were affected by the floods--the province will pay $250,000 to homeowners for their flood-prone properties. It's part of an effort to ensure fewer homes are affected in the future.

But the homes in Saint-Andre-D'Argenteuil are waterfront properties. Many were worth more than $250,000, before the floods. Now, though, they're nearly worthless. 

The mayor said the prospect of another flood had soured the community.

"The impacts we don't see are sometimes bigger than the damage on houses," the mayor said.

Labelle wants $80 million for the project--to buy all the houses that could flood in the spring, even the ones that don't qualify for provincial aid. He wants to tear down the area of town and turn the land into wetlands and a nature park.

But residents weren't convinced.

"I'm not sure, I'm really not sure," said Norman Bourduo, a homeowner in the area.

"It's my retirement," said another. "So, if they don't offer a lot, I'm not interested."

The mayor is hopeful. He wants to win over the provincial government and homeowners.

"The amount that will be invested in a project like that is an amount that won't be spent in the future," he said. 

With files from CTV Montreal's Emily Campbell